Greenland Fires Ignite Climate Change Fears

Greenland Fires Ignite Climate Change Fears

SOURCE: AGU Eos DATE: Aug 11, 2017 SNIP: In a real clash of fire and ice, a massive wildfire in southern Greenland has captured the world’s attention. Although the current fire’s cause remains a mystery, peat from thawed permafrost could be its fuel, said Jessica McCarty, a geographer at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, who specializes in geospatial analysis of wildfires. Permafrost, or permanently frozen soil, lies under multiple meters of an “active” soil layer that thaws seasonally. But in certain areas, when ice within the thawing permafrost layer melts, it can expose peat, a material that forms after decomposing plants get smashed down for centuries. The peat is made up of organic matter, most notably carbon, McCarty said. Given how readily it burns, she added, it’s almost like one giant charcoal briquette. If the fire is being fueled by thawed permafrost, there may be underlying climate change implications, McCarty continued. “The climate change [connection] is that there would be no fires here in Greenland if there were no fuel, and the only way that there’s fuel is if the permafrost is [thawed].” “Personally, this is very disturbing to me,” McCarty said, because the fire indicates significant permafrost degradation “sooner than [scientists] thought it would happen.” Researchers project significant permafrost loss in Greenland by the end of the century. Not 2017, she...
From all-time heat records to millions of charred acres of forest, summer of 2017 is no joke

From all-time heat records to millions of charred acres of forest, summer of 2017 is no joke

SOURCE: Mashable DATE: Aug 8, 2017 SNIP: On July 7, Mike Flannigan, a scientist at the University of Alberta, stared at satellite imagery on his computer as one wildfire after another ignited across British Columbia during the course of the unusually hot day. In total, 140 wildfires began on that one day, setting what may be a new record, Flannigan said in an interview. In Canada, Flannigan said, the area burned each year has doubled since the 1970s, despite improvements in fire management. “This is due to human caused climate change,” he said. “I can’t be more direct than that.” It’s not just British Columbia that’s suffering this summer either. Across the globe, it’s as if summer weather is on steroids, with searing heat waves, deadly flash floods, and massive fires affecting many areas. Scientists say that we’d better get used to it, thanks in part to global warming. Studies have tied the increasing number of large fires in parts of Canada and the U.S. to global warming. In fact, the level of fire activity across the boreal forests, which stretch from Alaska to Canada and around the top of the world to Scandinavia and Russia, is unprecedented in the past 10,000 years, according to a study published in 2013. Wildfires haven’t just been confined to the far north this year either. In the U.S., 5.9 million acres have burned in fires so far in 2017, mainly across the West, which is 1.9 million acres above the past decade’s annual average amount. As of Monday morning, firefighters were battling 11 large blazes in California alone, with additional large fires...
There’s a Wildfire Burning in West Greenland Right Now

There’s a Wildfire Burning in West Greenland Right Now

SOURCE: Climate Central and Think Progress DATE: Aug 7, 2017 UPDATE: There are actually two wildfires burning in Greenland. SOURCE: Wild Fire Today SNIP: It’s not just the American West and British Columbia burning up. A fire has sparked in western Greenland, an odd occurrence for an island known more for ice than fire. A series of blazes is burning roughly in the vicinity of Kangerlussuaq, a small town that serves as a basecamp for researchers in the summer to access Greenland’s ice sheet and western glaciers. The largest fire has burned roughly 3,000 acres and sent smoke spiraling a mile into the sky, prompting hunting and hiking closures in the area, according to local news reports. There’s no denying that it’s weird to be talking about wildfires in Greenland because ice covers the majority of the island. Forests are basically nonexistent and this fire appears to be burning through grasses, willows and other low-slung vegetation on the tundra that makes up the majority of the land not covered by...